Ten Points: This draft and the last draft

Last year, the question was whether the Oilers would choose the best available talent or draft for need (Ryan Murray). It’s early, but I thought they made the right decision at the time and I’ve seen nothing to sway that belief. What will they do this year, and what about some of the other players they picked in 2012? That and more after the jump.

1. I expect we’ll see the Oilers draft a goaltender early. Edmonton always seems to like having a ‘goalie of the future’ type in the pipeline, and while MacTavish may decide that isn’t so important the team doesn’t have a guy in that mold currently. Olivier Roy had an unimpressive AHL debut this year and Tyler Bunz’s professional debut was a couple of notches below “unimpressive” so it’s a clear organizational need. That, plus Bob Stauffer keeps asking high-ranking people in the organization about using a second round pick on a goalie; I’d guess that’s where the pick they got for Andrew Cogliano is going to be spent.

2. I also expect we’ll see the Oilers move down. Craig MacTavish made it pretty obvious the Oilers were looking at this in his year-end press conference:

I think that’s something we’re definitely going to look at, is doing something with that pick at seven. Whether we take seven or not will depend on what the market is out there, but we’d be I think at this point very receptive to moving back and picking up another pick potentially. It’s a very deep draft in my mind; I’ve only been involved in this one but there are tons of players out there that excite me, or possibly pick up somebody that can help us immediately and another pick.

The Oilers have two second-round draft picks but no selections in the third or fourth round (those picks were sent away for Mark Fistric and Jerred Smithson, respectively), so adding another early pick in what is expected to be a deep draft will doubtless appeal (particularly if they’re going to spendo ne of their relatively early picks on a goalie).

3. Draft for need or best player available? There is a vocal contingent of fans that would like to see the Oilers address need at the draft – “need” generally seen as skilled size up the middle and on defence. The argument for is that the Oilers have had difficulty acquiring those players and might need to get them through the draft; the argument against is that if the 6’2” centreman the team drafts is Marc Pouliot and the 5’11” winger the team passes on is Zach Parise, you look extremely stupid a few years down the road. My view: the team must draft the best player, and then if team need dictates they need to have the courage to trade him down the road. Maximize assets at the draft, cold-bloodedly make the best decisions for the team after – even if the best decision involves sending out a fan favourite.

4. 2012 picks: Mitch Moroz. Mitch Moroz did not have the offensive season that was expected of a player drafted where he was, but the organization says he’s fine. Here’s what Stu MacGregor had to say about Moroz on Oilers Now earlier this month:

I think Mitch Moroz is trending fine, there’s probably some people from time to time that worry about some things about Mitch but I don’t, he’s one of the toughest guys in the Western Hockey League. Teams in the NHL are still interested in getting his rights, have interest in him because of his physicality and strength; at this current time it’s always hard for a guy like that to figure out that fine line of when to be the tough guy and when to back off and he’s still trying to figure it out. Mitch has got to step up, he’s only 18, he has got another year of junior, he should have a great year next year with more of a role on that team.

It has been suggested to me that that Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal isn’t winning fans within the Oilers’ organization with his usage of Moroz, and while that may be a fair point but even so this was a terrible offensive year for the player. He had 13 goals and 34 points after managing 16 goals and 25 points a year ago; he had two goals and seven points in 22 playoff games after scoring four and eight in 20 last spring. Even MacGregor’s comments centre on the player’s strengths as a physical presence, rather than his abilities as a hockey player. Based on junior performance, Moroz looks a lot like an energy line player, and if that’s how things turn out it’s a very good bet the Oilers left talent on the board in 2012.

5. 2012 picks: Jujhar Khaira. The second big player the Oilers took a little earlier than consensus rankings would indicate was BCHL product Jujhar Khaira. So far, that pick looks inspired. Khaira had a strong season at Michigan Tech (37GP – 6G – 19A – 25PTS) and one of the best things about him is his age – he has an August 13 birthday, meaning that he’s almost a full year younger than a guy like Nail Yakupov drafted in the same class. Lowetide had him fourth in his most recent top-20 list, and I tend to agree that he’s the best forward prospect in the system.

6. 2012 picks: Daniil Zharkov. One of the lines in the sand I use for junior prospects is the point-per-game mark. Ideally, a drafted prospect who is going to make it as a scorer should be over the point-per-game mark in his draft year; there are exceptions but most who turn into NHL scorers seem to be at least at that level. There should also be significant year-over-year improvement going into the next season. Zharkov had 36 points in 50 games in his draft year, and improved to 43 points in 59 games this season. He is a goal-scorer (23 and 25 in those two years, respectively) and he does have size on his side, but this is a guy whose NHL potential is predicated on him being a scoring threat. If he can’t score at a well-above average clip in junior, how will he manage it as a professional? As Lowetide points out in the link above, he had a big second half; now he needs a big full season.

7. A [limited] opportunity in net. Right now, the Oilers’ minor-league goaltending prospects are kind of a mess. Olivier Roy was unimpressive in the AHL, Tyler Bunz was bad in the ECHL, and while the Oilers have now signed Frans Tuohimaa his performance in Europe was hardly dominant. The good news for all three is that at this represents an opportunity: if one of these guys can start next season well, he could get clear of the other two in a hurry and maybe play his way into the team’s NHL plans. If I had to pick the guy with the best shot I’d probably choose Tuohimaa, but based on careers there’s no clear gap here. All three are in significant danger of not getting another NHL deal once their entry-level contracts expire; if they can’t prove they’re worth keeping an eye on this season they may not get another chance.

8. Re-signing Mark Fistric. This is old news now, but a couple of weeks back Jim Matheson reported that the Oilers were interested in re-signing Mark Fistric at something close to his current rate (around $1.5 million per season) but that he wanted $2 million per year. He very well might get it, given the premium placed on size/physical game these days, but I’m not convinced the Oilers can afford that if he’s in the six/seven slot on their depth chart. It’s a good bet Fistric isn’t cracking the top-four, and if the Oilers are as bullish on improving their blue line/prospect Oscar Klefbom as they sound Fistric might even start in the seven slot if re-signed. If they’re going to re-sign him, they need to make room on the third pairing for him.

9. Should the Oilers look at Mikhail Grabovski? There has been some talk of the Maple Leafs centre as a buyout candidate after a miserable year, but I tend to agree with Lyle Richardson that it’s more likely Toronto will try to trade him while retaining a portion of his salary. Despite the poor season (Randy Carlyle didn’t help – Grabovski faced brutal opposition and started in his own end a ridiculous amount of the time) I see Grabovski as a very useful player with two problems. The first is that he’s small (5’11”, 183 pounds) and the second is that contract ($5.5 million cap hit for five years). But if Toronto’s willing to hang on to some money, he would be a fine replacement for Shawn Horcoff as a tough minutes centre. I don’t see him coming to Edmonton, but I do think some NHL team might get themselves a very good player at a reduced rate.

10. Do players without Cup rings belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? My answer to that question is Ray Bourque. He was one of the game’s most dominant defencemen for two decades in Boston, winning not only the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year but also five times being named the NHL’s best defenceman. He won the Stanley Cup in Colorado in the final season of his career, but was that really the difference between being in or being out of the Hall of Fame? I can’t see it. If anything, the HHOF places too great an emphasis on Cup wins – depth players that happened to play for a dynasty are in the HHOF now, and because they were never close to being elite talents they really don’t belong there.


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The shot above comes from the always excellent Graphic Comments, with a look at everything in the playoffs so far. I highly recommend reading the whole piece, or feel free check out some recent pieces here at Oilers Nation:

  • Citizen David

    I think the player I want the most from this draft is Ryan Pulock. And we could trade down to 12-14 to get him probably. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if two years from now he looks like the best or second best Defensemen from the draft. Could get an extra piece in the trade. Also huge Lazar fan.

    Player we should definately target in the second round is Justin Bailey.

  • Citizen David

    Fistric must be sniffing glue. He is a #7 D-man on a terrible team. If anything he should be taking a paycut.

    1.4 million is too much for a 6-7 D man. Unbelievable that he is asking for a big raise.

    Stu Macgregor’s comments on Moroz are very disturbing. I hope he doesn’t really think that way.


    I completely agree with JW RE: Zharkov. Trade his rights for whatever you can get.


    The Hall of Fame is a total joke to me now.

  • horndog77

    The only reason the Oilers are thinking of trading down is because, they have their mind set on Curtis Lazar………who is projected to go around 20 to 25.

    This scares the hell out of me! Not sure who they could trade with to get a swap plus a player, prospect, or additional pick. One thing I would be doing is following Detroit around and grabbing intel on who they plan on drafting. They seem to find the gems and we seem to draft guys like Puliot.

    Unless the Oilers are guaranteed to land two good players ( and we know how this movie ends) by moving down we should keep the draft and draft based on best player available……..based on a combination of skill, toughness, motivation, and attitude.

    Emphasis based on motivation………motivation like Yaks!

    • Citizen David

      For the last time Lazar is not projected to go 20-25. In Bob Mackenzie’s final poll of the scouts the only two players who got multiple top ten votes who didn’t make his top ten list were Domi and Lazar. Implying Lazar’s probably in the 11-15 range. ISS has him at 12. Jim Matheson said there is not a chance he makes it past 14.

  • horndog77

    The only reason the Oilers are thinking of trading down is because, they have their mind set on Curtis Lazar………who is projected to go around 20 to 25.

    This scares the hell out of me! Not sure who they could trade with to get a swap plus a player, prospect, or additional pick. One thing I would be doing is following Detroit around and grabbing intel on who they plan on drafting. They seem to find the gems and we seem to draft guys like Puliot.

    Unless the Oilers are guaranteed to land two good players ( and we know how this movie ends) by moving down we should keep the draft and draft based on best player available……..based on a combination of skill, toughness, motivation, and attitude.

    Emphasis based on motivation………motivation like Yaks!

  • horndog77

    The only reason the Oilers are thinking of trading down is because, they have their mind set on Curtis Lazar………who is projected to go around 20 to 25.

    This scares the hell out of me! Not sure who they could trade with to get a swap plus a player, prospect, or additional pick. One thing I would be doing is following Detroit around and grabbing intel on who they plan on drafting. They seem to find the gems and we seem to draft guys like Puliot.

    Unless the Oilers are guaranteed to land two good players ( and we know how this movie ends) by moving down we should keep the draft and draft based on best player available……..based on a combination of skill, toughness, motivation, and attitude.

    Emphasis based on motivation………motivation like Yaks!

  • horndog77

    Why trade down? why not trade up and get the centre we need! I think trading the 7th overall plus their late second rounder and a roster player should get them in the top 5. Trading down has not done so well for Edmonton. Centres with size please.

    • nuge2drai

      Oiler Domination To Follow


      Trade both 2nd Rounders and the #7 for the #3 or #4 spot and a 4th rounder. I wouldnt start my offer with both, but if it takes both make it happen.

      Shortly after I would look at trading Gagner for a legitimate top 3 dman like Bogosian, or keep him and let Center be a position of Strength for this organization.

      Center a position of Strength… Wow…Wouldnt that be a complete 360 degree change from the Steady Steve Era. Also the way the ELCS are structured next year we clear an additional 5 mil in cap space, I would suggest spending it on Clowe, and the remaining cap space on 2 Defenseman.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Trading down usually benefits the team who trades up.

    Draft Worst Case Scenerio: Jones, MacKinnon, Barkov, Drouin, Lindholm, Monahan, ________

    Best Case Scenerio: Jones, MacKinnon, Barkov, Drouin, Ristolainen, Lindholm, _______

    The best case scenerio we end up with Monahan who will make Sam Gagner expendable in a couple years if the Center depth becomes a position of strength for the Organization.

    The Worst case scenerio we end up with Nichushkin, who is 6’4 210 pounds of scoring talent and fills a huge hole on the Wing. You would naturally put Yakupov and Nichuskin on a line, but the way Hall and Yakupov played together at seasons end- I would suggest Nichuskin could play on a line with Eberle and Hopkins.

    Either way trading down makes little to no sense. Second rounders hardly pan out, but comparing a later pick(Lazar) who would take 3-4 years to develop to all the players taken in-front of him, including potentially Lindholm, Nichuskin, and Monaham will not favour well for any players development.

  • Citizen David

    If Im making an educated guess these are the players Oilers are looking at draft 2013





    And possible trade down



  • Quicksilver ballet


    MALCOLM SUBBAN will be a future VEZINA winner!!

    • 24% body fat

      I Didn’t know the oilers had the 19th overall pick in both 2012 and 2011,

      I guess we decided to trade away the pick in 2012 and get nothing in return for it with out anyone knowing.

      If you are implying the oilers should have taken Subban instead of Klefbom (who was drafted 19th in 2011), they were taken in different draft years.

      Get the facts straight.

      No credibility!

      • Citizen David

        Ha! I tried to give my 2c on his post as well. However I was also wrong about the draft yrs. I look foolish lol. Thx for the correction.

        btw DSF, this is called humility, admitting when wrong. It’s ok man, I’ll live.

    • Citizen David

      Your being sarcastic right? If not I wonder how you can make such a bold statement considering we took Klefbom, who by most accounts should be a solid NHL dman. As for Subban, his WJC performance was ok at best, future Vezina winner…….well see. Either way right now this hardly qualifies as oilers biggest mistake. Too many others to choose from. For me it’s been pro scouting and roster management.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Colorado – Jones

    Florida- MacKinnon Drouin

    TB- MacKinnon Drouin Nichushkin

    Nash- Barkov Drouin MacKinnon

    Carolina- Monahan Lindholm Nichushkin Nurse Zadorov

    Calgary – Monahan Lindholm Nichushkin

    Edmonton- Monahan Lindholm Nichushkin Zadorov

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Josh Oiler is the Bob MacKenzie of our weird underground hockey debate. Josh you are the smartest hockey mind we all know. Thanks for coming on and telling all of us how it really is.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Col.-Jones , Florida -MacKinnon , T.B. -Zadorov to go with Hedman (two towers) , Nashville-Barkov , Carolina -Drouin , Calgary – Nurse , Edmonton – lots including Nicushkin that can be used to trade ! Or better yet you fill in the Oiler pick .

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    I would really like to see MacT trade for Halak, Hiller or Miller. Signing Luongo if hes baught out, or Bryzgalov on a cheaper 2 year deal would be solid as well.

    We can easily turn a semi-weakness into a great strength and ride the hot goalie on a pair system challenging Dubnyk to always bring his A-game. Could increase his value and turn into a great asset like Schneider if he performs in the two tandem system.


  • 24% body fat

    Although Bobby Lou would be a great addition to the Oiler team, he wants to be in Miami. He wife and her parents are from there and I guarantee if he gets bought out… He will sign there as FLA wants him back as well!

    BEN BISHOP should have been a priority, yet I know OTT wanted PAAJARVI and a 2nd rounder…. It almost happened! Good thing it didn’t.

    I think the Oil Brass will pitch for Mike Smith from PHOENIX! Jonathan Bernier may also be in play via LA. Lombardi and Tambi have always had a good relationship. Tho Tambi no longer here?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I guess that Texas Stars’ D forgot to destroy the Barons or whatever.

    I wonder what you call winning in 5 with a goal differential of 19-7?

    Any ideas?

  • Citizen David

    Someone at the draft always throws a curve ball but this is what I think I can guarantee happening:

    Colorado – Jones
    Florida – Drouin ( or Mackinnon)
    Tampa – Mackinnon ( or Drouin)
    Nashville – Barkov
    Carolina – Lindholm
    Calgary – Monahan

  • stretch14


    This isn’t the NFL where you can slide down a few spots and get a 2nd round pick who can be a starter on your team the next season. The chances of that extra pick panning out even 2-3 years down the road out are fairly minimal.

    We all know what happened the last time the Oilers traded down and it wasn’t pretty.

    Take the best player available or trade the pick for a significant roster player, simple as that. Don’t try and get all cute on us MacT!

  • capebretonoilers

    Simply take the man with the best faceoff skills,and focus on nothing else.The Oilers are severely lacking in decent faceoff talent and need to immediatly address that area with long term initiative.

    After that look at their growth rates and find the ones who havent hit their peaks yet–no substantial muscle and weight gains–just typical steady growth,then look at their parents and check to see if you are waiting by a dry hole,make sure one of the parents carries the body type we are looking for.We need guys who will grow into NHL size without a doubt.We need size and competativeness.

    The last thing we need to do is look for anomalies,anything weird about a guy that might turn into some type of advantage at the NHL level,say reallly long arms that give him an unnatural reach,or super sized legs or forearms,or anything odd that stands out.Those oddities can turn out to be serious advantages,Linus Omark will have a solid NHL career based on an abstract advantage like this, his spin moves that no NHL defensman has ever consistantly stopped,his moves happen to be some of the most consistantly sucessfull ones ever seen on Oilers ice.I would have had him in thw lineup the last 2 years,and believe we can use him now,he needs opportunity and he will crawl up into out top six and remove someone based on points scored consistantly and penaltys drawn,in my opinion he is an elite zone entry specialist who can replace Hemmer in that area actually upgrade us because Omark works better off the controlled transition game than Ales and needs to be put on the roster ASAP–I could turn him into an NHL monster in a month.I believe Omark and Eberle are natural Brothers in Arms who see the ice the same way and when they are united they will have immediate and natural chemistry and likely will run the PP if they are given a chance to srut their stuff together.

    If you watch Omarks game videos he isnt just offensive,he is very very smart defensively and is ELITE at utilising his sphere of influence on every level,stick-body-mind.Forget the “cheeky” plays they are genius plays,I would DEMAND he do them in the NHL if I was his coach,DEMAND it,that flip from behnd the net into the goalies back is money in the bank and it forces the d-man to close on him and lets him dictate dynamics,beautiful.And he COMPETES IN EVERY GAME,he doesnt take nights off.We are going to miss the boat badly on this guy,he has all the ingredients we need right now in his game.

    I hate to say this but the single biggest determining factor catalysing competativeness is background,the environment and circumstances of your youth define the competitior you become and your dynamic strategising develops very very early,so there is an entire constellation of relevant data that we cant possibly have acess to that the NHL teams must have dossiers on.Because this team is looking for compete in a huge way they need to have an Intuit working with them in this process.There is a specific dynanmic template the Oilers need to look for,Screw Darkhorse and their”sratching data”up from the internet BS,I am not explaining it fully.But we really ought to be looking hard Intuitively into the “compete”area of everyones resumes.

    I like what Monohan has to say about faceoffs already,if this proves to be a consistantly evolving strength of his then he might be the man based on that alone.But we dont need try,we need the faceoff skills to be either there or trending there quickly.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Everyone likes Nurse, but we all want to witness this BOLD thing MacTavish was referring to and get both Barkov AND Nurse. That would be bold don’t you think? There’s no denying we need both these kids. Oiler fan has been patient enough these last 5 yrs, it’s time management focused on adding to this roster instead of purposely losing for lottery picks.

      Ah, who am I kidding here, this is the Oilers we’re talking about. Watch them trade that 7th to a team headed in the right direction. Watch them with a straight face move down and claim they had that Coke machine on skates Lazar rated 1st on their list. Guess they’re right when they said, you just can’t fix dumb. Lets trade that 7th pick which could possibly land and elite level player, and take Lazar, who in two years will be nothing but a support player. Stupid can still be classed as bold, can’t it?

      • Truth

        Hmm Gagner, second round pick (EDM or ANA, which ever is higher), Top prospect (Khaira, Rajala, Gernat) for Barkov (Second – Fourth pick)?

        Fair deal? Worth it?

        To tip the scales throw in Omark (Joke)

        • Quicksilver ballet

          So, you’re saying take MacKinnon/Barkov with that 3rd/4th, and Nurse with the 7th?

          I’d do that in a heartbeat. I’d even add to the assets you mentioned heading out of town. I’d include guys like N.Schultz,Potter, The rights to Whitney, Paajarvi,Hemsky, along with picks. Rookies are better than these guys that never give you more than a 95%+ effort that’s needed some nights.

          Buy out Horcoff and Smyth, and go after Clarkson,Hartnell and Ott. Would fill out the top 9 nicely i’d have to think.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I do but our opinion does not really count. It seems that any tough defenseman does not get appreciated in Edmonton.

      It seems that Coaching and management do not like tough defenseman……..they either get run out of town ( Souray) or not played Peckham, Fistric because they make a little mistake.

      If this is a litmus test, then tough defenseman need not apply! We seem to like small, fast, defenseman.

  • Truth

    IMO, it’s a mistake to draft size and physicality (Zadorov) in the upper first round. Draft high level skill and see it as a bonus if the player is big and physical.

    I would like to see the Oilers draft board look like this, in order (big 3 omitted):
    – Barkov
    – Nichushkin
    – Lindholm
    – Monahan

    If those are all gone, great! The Oilers get one of the big 3.

    Many say that Lindholm is another Lander. This comparison must be made only because they’re both Swedish. Lander had 12 pts in his draft year playing in the SEL, Lindholm had 30. Skill above all else in the top round.

    It’s always an interesting debate as to whether it’s a benefit or not for a player to be by far the best player on a bad team (Monahan). This player will benefit from heavy ice time on special teams and in important situations. Most likely, the player is also the “go-to” guy on the PP and will therefore score a lot of points. This speaks to the players skill, but if the team was so bad who knows what would happen if someone like Shinkaruk (high level skill) played on that team as well. Would the points be split? Would the more skilled player (Shinkaruk) be the “go-to” player and take away 1/2 or 1/3 of the points that Monahan scored?

    Although this is an extreme example, look at Hall vs. Neiderreiter in the WC. Hall scored 3 pts and Neiderreiter 6 pts. Many consider Neiderreiter the best player on the SUI, none consider Hall the best on team Canada. Who is the better player?

    My pure speculation is that Monahan’s extreme ceiling is similar to a Jordan Staal and Lindholm’s would be a Zetterberg.

    Edit: My counting was off and removed Nurse

  • stretch14

    I’m not sure of the logic to trade down, exactly what makes people think that the Oilers selecting Lazar is better than 7 to 10 spots earlier?

    I hope that this Lazar kid is as good as the Oilers think he is. I would be trying to move up three spots, we have the players, and prospects to make this happen ……….and could potentially secure the coveted first line centre ( Barkov) we have always wanted.

    IMHO we pushed RNH far too early in his career ( especially given his size) to play heavy minutes……..having someone with size will help down the road. Teams don’t trade these types of player, so let’s just draft one, and stop with all the trade down talk.

    • stretch14

      I really dont think the oilers are trading down. Its all about mind games.

      Now that MacT mentioned it, other teams mightg be interested. They will call and make offers. Now he has the upper hand in knowing who is available.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I hope that you are right………this draft is thick with talent and we should make the most of it.

        We just do not have a good track record ( outside of selecting first) with draft picks. A lot of people love Stu but his track record is questionable.